Have you given up the gathering? Or in simple English, have you quit going to church? I'm not a pastor on staff, I don't have a "dog in the fight" if you will. But have you left corporate worship? If so why? Disheartened? Broken? Hurt? The main reason I ask is because there was a time not long ago where I was done with church.
For a while I couldn't admit it to myself and if you know much about me you understand why. I grew up in church. Church was my favorite place to be. The community was awesome, our church music was great and God was moving in a big way and it was obvious to me, even as a kid (thought I probably wouldn’t have said it just like this).
So what happened you ask? In retrospect I can clearly see the point where the understanding I had of God and how He and I interacted didn't add up anymore. That's a painful state of being. It occurred not because God failed me, but rather God didn't live up to my expectations. My child-like faith served me well and was also the crux of this crisis. So how can this be?
I had a true golden age in my life, it lasted about 20 years. Life was easy to explain and I could clearly see God’s blessing in my life. But then things happened in my personal and family life. There were certain expectations I had for how the church might respond to me when I brought these hurts to them and guess what, they didn’t meet those expectations. I’ll just say some were reasonable expectations, and some (looking back) were not. The fact is, looking for someone who hasn’t been hurt in church life is like trying to find a sibling who’s never had their toy taken by their brother or sister (not likely). “Ok Matt, so you are saying you aren’t bitter, what’s all this about?”
It’s about God and the way He moves when a group of people worship Him together. It’s about standing with 10, 20, 50, 100, 1000, or 10,000 other people who sing with mended hearts or hearts on the mend, confessing and proclaiming that He is good and His love endures forever. That there is no God like our God. If you’ve ever sensed the Spirit of God move in a time of corporate worship then you know what I’m talking about and you know I could never put it into words on a website. I write to encourage you, if you’ve sensed the Spirit of God move in corporate worship in the past, but haven’t recently, seek it. If you’re not attending somewhere, start looking for a church home. If you are thinking: “Well I’ve been hurt by church and don’t care to return.” Don’t go to that church, but don’t give up on God and worshiping with fellow believers just because one church made mistakes and didn’t respond the way you would have liked or the way they should have (pleading more than preaching here).
Once again, I’m not on staff at a church, and I’ve been wounded by church people. I’m grateful to say I’ve been able to work through my hurts and am grateful to worship with fellow believers and witness God moving in corporate worship. In Hebrews we’re reminded of Christ’s sacrifice for us and then we’re encouraged with these words in Chapter 10:24-25
“24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching."
May we celebrate each opportunity we have to worship Him together and give thanks to God for who He is, what He’s done, and that His mercies are new every morning. If you need prayer on finding a church home please feel free to Email, Facebook or Tweet me and I’ll be happy to pray for you and encourage you.